September 2, 2015 / 10:31 AM / 4 years ago

LEGO goes into space as first-half sales surpass Mattel

COPENHAGEN, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Toymaker LEGO scored two publicity victories on Wednesday, sending 20 of its plastic figures into space alongside Denmark’s first astronaut and surpassing the first-half earnings of Barbie maker Mattel , a top rival for children’s pocket money.

The Danish plastic brick maker, revitalised in recent years partly through the success of The LEGO Movie, made 20 figures with European Space Agency (ESA) logos, which Andreas Mogensen took on a Russian Soyuz rocket blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The figures will be handed out on their return as competition prizes and LEGO is already looking ahead to another movie due for release in 2017, to be based on its “Ninjago” martial arts figures.

The unlisted company said first-half sales were up 18 percent to 14 billion Danish crowns ($2.1 billion) compared with Mattel’s revenue of $1.91 billion.

Asked if LEGO can keep up the pace of growth, Chief Financial Officer John Goodwin told news television channel TV2 that the toy market had grown in the first half of this year.

“What we need to stay laser-focused on is to continue to innovate around the lego brick, creating super play experiences for children around the globe and continue to stay relevant as trends evolve,” Goodwin said.

Astronaut Mogensen is one of a three-man international crew on the Soyuz mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

“We had a great opportunity to partner with the ESA around this activity in order to bring awareness around science and technology into schools,” Goodwin said. “We wish him (Mogensen) well on this trip.”

At LEGO’s 2014 press conference, CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp burst into song and dance to celebrate the record results and this year he might have reason to stage a repeat performance.

“While it is still early to estimate full-year results, we expect another satisfactory result,” Goodwin said in a statement.

Monopoly boardgame maker Hasbro is growing faster than Mattel and has signed licencing deals with film studios for toys associated with the giant Jurassic Park and Star Wars movie franchises. But with sales in the first half of $1.5 billion, it also lags LEGO.

$1 = 6.6128 Danish crowns Editing by Sabina Zawadzki and David Holmes

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